Father's Touch cover Donald D'Haene

Rebecca Brown’s eInterview with Donald D’Haene
Author of Father's Touch


Rebecca :
Donald, I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to read your story. Tell my Readers when did you realize what was happening in your family was illegal, & why you decided to write about your life?

Donald :
In 1978, my grade eleven teacher told our class we should read the newspaper daily. I started reading Ann Landers & one day, a letter appeared from a woman who had been molested as a child.

Miss Landers responded that incest is a crime & that her abuser should be reported to the police. Immediately, I was propelled outside the inner sphere of my small universe. Sexual abuse was a crime — such a foreign concept to me. More than thirty people knew of my own experience of abuse. Did they know it was a crime? If so, why didn’t they tell me? One fifty–worded answer provided the spark that ignited my quest for justice.

I guess writing the book was part of that quest. I first scribbled down notes 20 years ago & for years, when I rattled off past experiences to acqaintances, their reaction to the content & also the way I told those tales, told me I had a story that people found horrifying & entertaining at the same time.

That was my first clue there was a book in me. But that wasn’t a good enough reason to re–visit life with Father. I couldn’t help but notice how much misinformation is out there, how male victims remain in their “silent closet” & for very good reason. Perhaps my story would help them see their way to disclosure. How much better the journey would be with their eyes wide open.

Rebecca :
What do you see as the damages such parental predation inflicts upon a child? Do they last a lifetime?

Donald :
I have talked to over a thousand victims in the last two decades. I’ve never heard the same story twice. Every survivor is unique, but they all are affected in one way or another — fear of intimacy, depression, compulsive or self–destructive behaviour, insomnia, nightmares, flashbacks — the list is endless. The important thing is not trying to escape the past as much as learning to live with it. Denying the past is not as healthy as some people proselytize it to be. Unfortunately there are many who don’t survive. They opt out on life because this one, they can no longer bare.

Rebecca :
If you had not gotten help from a mental health therapist, what do you think would have happened to you — or not?

Donald :
I don’t know how anyone deals with incest without some form of therapy. Thank God for this voice of sanity visiting my life. I shudder to think of where I would be without it. Well, I don’t think I’d be alive to answer your question!

Rebecca :
You write about there being other Donalds — tell us about that.

Donald :
Hey, let’s not scare your readers. I’m no Sybil! I dis–associated from my painful experiences so that I could function in the “real” world. I am totally aware of the Other Donalds’ existence. It’s like having an interior monologue.

Thinking Donald must be in control. He is not!

See what I mean?

Rebecca :
You tell the story of the evolution from keeping the silence to actually pressing charges against your father. When the “trial” finally gets going, you simply record the court transcripts, & the Reader must wade through their self–serving, pompous, evasive erudition, realizing how ultimately ineffectual they really are. What would you say to any child who contemplates bringing their errant parent to justice?

Donald :
I would say disclose the abuse not only to validate your own experience, but also to prevent the molester from continuing to abuse or abuse others. Speak with someone you believe that you can confide in, such as a guidance counsellor at school. Since many children are computer literate, there is a lot of information & material available on the internet regarding sexual abuse & sexual abuse hotlines, including toll free phone numbers to call for help.

Is it going to be a walk in the park? No, but in many ways, charging abusers is one small step toward control of our destiny. It may work out to be a very empowering experience.

Rebecca :
All through your book, you maintain your faith in God, even when the elders of your religion dismissed your family’s cries for help. What would you say to your Readers, when their elders fail them?

Donald :
Whereas many people of faith would say, “Rely on God,” as the answer to all their problems, I say, “God doesn’t help them who don’t help themselves! Elders are imperfect men. They don’t have all the answers, nor are they trained to deal with issues surrounding sexual abuse or domestic violence. Don’t place mortals on a superior plane. If you do, they will disappoint you!”

Rebecca :
I relished your journal entries. Tell us how writing saved your life.

Donald :
Although people discounted the Physical Donald, Thinking Donald was always my saviour. I could write down feelings that I could never verbalize or display. It was a very healthy outlet for my private pain.

Rebecca :
Now, in the maturity of your years, are you enjoying yourself? Do you now allow the full rainbow of emotions into your life?

Donald :
Colour me Donald! I laugh, cry, yell, scream, you name it. I do it. Free a cage bird & what does it do! It sings & soars. I am free. Free at last.

Rebecca :
Thank you, Donald, for such a brave & readable book. What next are you writing?

Donald :
My follow–up memoir, where I continue my journey of discovery.

Rebecca :
Donald DíHaene is freelance writer whose short stories can be found in The Good Life (2000) & Memories of Elgin and Middlesex (2000). His by–monthly column, DISHing with Donald, ran in Scene, the Canadian entertainment magazine, & was also filmed as a regular segment for Daytime on Rogers Television. He is also an actor with the Armstrong Talent(APA Management).

D’Haene lives in London, Ontario, Canada, with his partner, Maurice, his mother, & their three Siamese cats, Bach–Pierre, Maxine & Milo.

Do catch my Review of Donald D’Haene’s Father’s Touch — I hope it makes you go out & buy yourself a copy!



Rebecca Brown
(Published September 08, 2002)